There's more to getting the best deals online or in-store than shopping for sale and clearance items. Product discounts, whether they’re presented through in-store events or online bargains, are designed to tempt you into spending an ever-increasing amount of money. Avoid impulse spending by looking out for your budget and bottom line, not a retailer’s.
When Is a Sale Not a Good Deal?
Sales are supposed to look enticing, and if you’re shopping for something specific, then buying it on sale is certainly cheaper than buying it without any discount. However, if an item is more a want than a need and it’s not on your list, then you’re not saving money on the purchase; you’re simply spending more.
Ask yourself the following questions whenever you’re thinking about buying something on sale:
- Is this something I planned to buy?
- Do I need this item?
- Can my budget afford it?
- What will happen if I don’t buy it?
- Is this a legitimately good deal?
A realistic budget does have room for buying things you want but don’t necessarily need. The trick is to strike a balance, which might mean spending less or not buying something else to get what you want this time.
Understand Advertising Tricks to Make Smart Choices
Advertising is all about motivating people to part with their cash. Retailers want you to think you’re missing out on a time-limited opportunity if you don’t “take advantage” of a sale. By creating this sense of urgency, they hope you’ll abandon your budget and smart shopping habits and look out for their bottom line instead of yours.
Most sales—especially seasonal ones—will happen again and again, and who knows, the price may be better next time. For those who are super keen to get the best deals, check out what to buy during specific months of the year. But remember: it’s only a deal if you actually use what you buy.
Don’t Underestimate Credit Card Costs
When you see a deal with a cost that’s a bit beyond what you can afford, resist the temptation to top up your budget with your credit card. If you carry a balance on your credit card from month to month, then by the time interest and fees are added, you could end up paying as much as 50% more for what you bought.
This means that the new headphones you want to buy on sale for $150 could end up costing as much as $225. If the sale isn’t a big one, you could end up paying even more than the normal price. That’s probably not the deal you were looking for.
Know Why You Impulse Buy to Avoid Shopping Hysteria
Protect yourself from shopping hysteria by knowing what causes you to impulse buy. For example, do you feel pressured to spend more often on weekends or weekdays? Do you buy more unnecessary things when you’re with friends or alone?
Big sales make a lot of us overspend. We think that the more things we buy on sale, the more money we’ll save. That thought makes us feel good about spending more money—even money we don’t have (i.e. credit). Couple that with a festive holiday mood or special occasion and it’s easy to get carried away.
Figuring out what makes you shop impulsively will help you take back control over your spending. Rather than buying into the frenzy of big sales, sticking to your budget and doing what’s best for your bottom line is what will let you come out ahead in the end.
What to Do When Shopping for the Best Deals Costs More Than You Bargained For
Everyone loves the feeling of buying something on sale, whether it’s online or in-person. However, if one too many “best deals” has caused you or family members difficulty with spending and debt, a credit counsellor at a non-profit credit counselling organization can help. They will be happy to review your situation with you and help guide you on the path to overcoming your challenges. Knowing your finances are taken care of will make the joy of shopping that much sweeter.